Recording Area Annual Totals

97 Species in 2013, 99 in 2012, 94 in 2011, 108 species were recorded in 2010;

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Surprise WAGTAIL flock


High pressure dominated today with clear blue skies and light NNE winds - perfect conditions in fact for migrating Common and European Honey Buzzards. It also turned very warm in the sunshine and on the East and South coasts, many Scandinavian drift migrants began to appear.......


The single LITTLE EGRET was again in the stream east of Bois Mill, with a female Common Pheasant feeding in Mill Farm Water Meadows.

Most significant was a feeding flock of 37 wagtails on the Clement Dane School Playing Fields late afternoon, including a male YELLOW WAGTAIL (the first recorded this year in my District), 8 WHITE WAGTAILS and 28 Pied Wagtails. A single female Linnet was also feeding with them

Sunday, 29 August 2010

LAPWING and Partridge surprise

I stopped off opposite the entrance to Chenies Manor this evening after seeing 16 Lesser Black-backed Gulls feeding in the recently tilled field - the highest number recorded in the area this autumn. As I scanned the field further, I came across 34 roosting LAPWINGS and a family party of 5 RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES. The field also looks great for chats and Yellow Wagtails so watch this space !

Friday, 27 August 2010

High hopes for grounded migrants did not get borne out


With a light NE breeze blowing all night, coupled with overnight rain, I had high expectations for today. Once the rain cleared, it gave way to much drier conditions and blue sky and a ridge of high pressure prevailed for the rest of the daylight hours.

I spent all morning and afternoon searching my immediate local area for drift migrants - largely Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler - but failed to find any. Spotted Flycatchers were the highlight.......


Up to 3 Red Kites were repeatedly present today, drifting back and forth.over the garden.


A mobile and noisy tit flock moving quickly through the Latimer Conference Centre gardens included 5 Common Chiffchaff, a juvenile Willow Warbler and a Goldcrest in its numbers.

I was then alerted to a loud commotion taking place by 5 Jays and a Common Magpie. I went over to investigate and found a TAWNY OWL roosting against the tree trunk in a tall ivy-covered tree. It afforded crippling views and as I approached, the mobbing birds moved off and left it in peace.

Large numbers of hirundines were hawking over Great Water, including 36 House Martins, 20 Barn Swallows and 4 SAND MARTINS (scarce here), whilst the lake itself held 12 Mute Swans and 7 Tufted Ducks.

Both juvenile Common Buzzards in Lane Wood were very noisily following the parents around, whilst a further 6 Goldcrests were accompanying a Long-tailed Tit flock.


An immature Continental Cormorant (sinensis) stood in the dead tree at Latimer Bridge for at least 90 minutes and along the Chess in this vicinity was a further 25 feeding House Martins. A Common Whitethroat was also present by the river.

At Church Covert, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 4 Common Chiffchaffs, 10 Woodpigeons and a charm of 11 Goldfinches were noted, with a male Common Pheasant, 48 Jackdaws and 2 Carrion Crows nearby. Another two young Common Buzzards were screaming from the wood thereabouts.

As I walked down towards a very sodden Mill Farm Meadow, Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch were encountered and at Frogmore Meadow, one juvenile Common Kestrel, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker and more Long-tailed Tits were seen. The small wood by Frogmore produced both Nuthatch and Common Treecreeper, along with a Blackcap, whilst at the Water Vole Watchpoint, a family party of 7 Mute Swans were encountered (one of the adults bearing a white ring inscribed 'T2L'.).

At the Crestyl Cressbeds, a further Nuthatch and 5 House Martins were noted, with Valley Farm hosting 5 House Sparrows,Red Kite, Stock Dove, 4 Pied Wagtails and another Goldcrest. The biggest surprise was 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS hunting from the wire fence to the west of the farm - the first to be recorded in the valley this year.

Once the sun had come out, good numbers of COMMON BLUE butterflies appeared and in Latimer village, both Wren and 3 Greenfinches were recorded.


The first-winter Great Crested Grebe remained from yesterday, with 8 Tufted Ducks, 3 Common Chiffchaffs and a juvenile Blackcap noted.


As I drove along the bottom road towards Chesham, I came upon the 5 Mute Swans in the middle of the road (the resident pair with their three offspring). I parked up and spent the next 25 minutes slowly walking the entire family back up to the footbridge, from where I could easily force them back into the river. Road users looked on bemused as I escorted all five birds waddling clumsily along the High Street. They had been forced to do so because of the waterfall.


Surely there had to be a Pied Flycatcher here? But no, there wasn't! Instead, still 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the Sallows at the far west end of the lake, and 5 Common Chiffchaffs.
Otherwise, the lake held 4 Great Crested Grebes (the pair with their single young and the first-winter), 5 Little Grebes, all 5 Mute Swans, 4 Grey Herons, 8 Gadwall (3 drakes), 3 female NORTHERN POCHARDS, Common Kestrel and most interestingly, a WATER RAIL, my first record here in August.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Rain in for the day


I arrived on site just prior to the band of heavy rain moving in from the west and this in turn pushed down 5 COMMON SWIFTS, 15 House Martins and 2 SAND MARTINS over the lake.

Otherwise, little of note: the male Great Crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, no sign of any Mute Swans, 11 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Mallard, a drake Gadwall, 4 Tufted Duck, 120 Coot, Jay, 3 Grey Herons and a Goldcrest

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

LITTLE EGRET returns and just outside the area, a bagful of passage WHINCHATS


It was a very windy day, with warm SSW winds increasing in gusts to force 6 at times. It did remain dry though, with some long bright periods. Following yesterday's bonanza of sightings, today was rather lean in comparison, with little of new arrivals in the strong winds.

(permit access only)

Peter Stevens had been recording WHINCHATS at the site since Saturday morning but despite a lot of hard grafting, I just could not locate them. Today however, I eventually located all SIX juveniles, all feeding together on the raised weed-covered bund just beyond the Lillyfee Studios. They were extremely mobile though and as I walked along towards them, they continuously moved ahead and flew perhaps 35 yards or more each time. This is a site first for me.

The only other migrants recorded were a single COMMON WHITETHROAT and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL, whilst other species noted included 3 Jays, Sparrowhawk, GREEN SANDPIPER, Blue Tit and Skylark.


The first LITTLE EGRET of the 'autumn' has arrived in the valley, feeding in the shallow tributary just east of Bois Mill. One bird lingered this year in to May and one of the London colonies from where perhaps some of my birds originate really burgeoned in numbers this summer.

At Chesham Fishing Lakes, Chris Pontin noted two Great Crested Grebes present including a juvenile.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Just outside the Recording Area - South Beaconsfield


Cloud cover dominated today but a brisk southerly wind kept temperatures warm and muggy

(private site: permit access only)

I spent three hours on site this afternoon searching in vain for the 4 WHINCHATS that had been present in the morning - no sign whatsoever.

The great news is that the two young BARN OWLS have fledged and left the nest hole

Two COMMON RAVENS were seen several times, along with 500+ Jackdaws and an exceptional feeding flock of at least 600 Common Starlings. Also, 14 Eurasian Skylarks were noteworthy.

Few gulls on site this afternoon other than 70 argenteus Herring Gulls, whilst 44 Stock Dove, 29 Red Kite, 5 Common Buzzard, 78 Lapwing, Yellowhammer, 12 Goldfinch and 6 Linnets made up the rest of the Systematic List

Friday, 20 August 2010

New baby GREAT CRESTED GREBE, late COMMON SWIFT and large gull flock just outside boundary


A very warm and muggy southerly wind followed the overnight band of rain and in turn moved on many of the passerine migrants of yesterday as well as an adult male Lesser Grey Shrike in North Norfolk I was all set to go for......

Dave's early morning check of Wilstone revealed nothing more than the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, GARGANEY and two ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS so I thought I would try Steps Hill again. However, that was dire and there was little else of note at other sites either........


There was no sign of any passage Pied Flycatchers on site following yesterday's bird at Wilstone. The highlight however was a single stripy baby Great Crested Grebe riding on mother's back - the third baby to have been born this year in my Recording Area. It is interesting how late Great Crested Grebes nest now, particularly when you consider some pairs breed as early as March and fledge in May. A new cluster of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS was also present.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (the resident pair have raised a single chick whilst the first-winter from elsewhere also remains. The male carried in a silver fish but it was too large for the baby bird to take.

Little Grebe (a new juvenile on site as well as at least two adults)
Mute Swan (all five birds present as usual)
Gadwall (1) but no other wildfowl noted
Coot (125)
Moorhen (7)
Red Kite (5)
Common Buzzard (2)

Green Woodpecker (adult and juvenile)
COMMON SWIFT (1 lingering at the west end)
SAND MARTIN (1 - scarce in the area)
House Martin (4)
European Barn Swallow (3 at the cricket field)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (nesting confirmed - family group of four birds at west end)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS (4 birds at the west end of the lake with a 'newly arrived' family of four - the adults feeding two young - at the extreme west end by the fenceline)
Greenfinch (1)
Goldfinch (charm of 9 birds feeding on teasels)


A family party of four birds on the village green and two Common Buzzards overhead.

(permit access only)

There were over 700 large white-headed gulls present on the landfill on my arrival including an exceptional number of argenteus Herring Gulls for late August - 413 in all. In amongst them were at least 28 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS and over 300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls including several intermedius. There was also a single adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL - rare in August.

Little else of note though apart from 16 Red Kites, 78 Lapwing west and 250 Common Starlings

Monday, 16 August 2010

Hirundines on the move

Fairly quiet at a local level apart from a good passage of EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS on Sunday

My garden has been alive with juvenile Blue and Great Tits, with 2 Long-tailed Tits on Saturday, with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk over White Lion Road on Sunday

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Bushes alive with warblers and flycatchers at Shardeloes


A return to pleasant weather, with a wedge of increasing high pressure pushing temperatures back up to the low 70's. Winds were light west or northwest, with patchy cloud giving way to clear blue skies.


Two LINNETS flew over the garden mid morning, whilst the number of Goldfinches visiting the Nyger seed increased to 6, including a juvenile. House Sparrow numbers peaked at 35.


The single Common Teal remained present, as did the single Mute Swan, female Tufted Duck, 44 Coot, 9 Moorhen and Lapwing, whilst the surrounding woodland and fields yielded HOBBY, Nuthatch, both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch and Robin. A Common Buzzard was in full tumbling display in the warm afternoon sunshine.


Warblers and flycatchers were everywhere and frenziedly flashing backwards and forwards from the Willows and Sallows at the west end of the lake, including 1 LESSER WHITETHROAT, 8 Common Chiffchaffs, 5 juvenile WILLOW WARBLERS and 9 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS.

The lake held the 5 Mute Swans, the juvenile MANDARIN DUCK, a drake Gadwall, a female Northern Pochard, all 4 Great Crested Grebes, 112 Coot, a Common Kingfisher and 15 Long-tailed Tits. The Mandarin was 'flycatching' - snapping out with an extended neck at the many insects passing by.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

GREEN SANDPIPER downed by lightning storm

Spotted Flycatcher (Mike Knott)

Following a short, sharp shower mid morning, early afternoon saw a lightning storm pass across the Chilterns. Much cooler conditions arrived from the North West and bright periods were few and far between.

I was hoping the rain would bring down a few birds and it did - the first LESSER WHITETHROATS of the year in my Recording Area as well as an unexpected passage GREEN SANDPIPER......

(midday through to 1410 hours)

Two LESSER WHITETHROATS were 'taccing' in the Sallow and Willow scrub at the far weat end of the lake, representing the first record of this species in the Amersham District this year. The Willow and Sallows also produced one continuing juvenile SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, a singing WILLOW WARBLER and 5 Common Chiffchaffs.

Most unexpected was a passage migrant GREEN SANDPIPER that dropped in during a deluge of rain coincident with a lightning storm. It landed on a minute patch of mud along the footpath shore and then flew off calling loudly when the heavy rain stopped. This is my first record of this species at the lake.

Also noted were 4 GREAT CRESTED GREBES today (the resident pair, a further adult and the first-winter), 2 Little Grebes, 4 Mute Swans (the 3 first-summers and an additional bird much further up the Misbourne by Kennel Farm), 2 Grey Heron, 7 GADWALL, 113 Coot and an adult Black-headed Gull.

Common Kestrels had bred with a juvenile begging for food, with Common Buzzard and 6 Red Kites on view and a LITTLE OWL calling loudly.

Three House Martins were clearly migrants, whilst 44 Jackdaws were feeding close to Kennel Farm and 2 family parties of Pied Wagtail (9 birds - 5 juveniles) were feeding on the cricket pitch. Up to 8 Goldfinches were in the area.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

House Martins and Goldfinch (Mike Lawrence Photography)

At last - finally added HOBBY

Red Kites have benefitted from yet another spectacular breeding season in my area of South Buckinghamshire and at present, juveniles can be heard screaming all around. Mike Ilett obtained these outstanding images.

A cloudy day with occasional light spots of rain. Still largely warm, with temperatures average for early August at 68 degrees F. Light NW winds.

The harvesting of the crops is well underway now with fields being cut all around. Likewise, the eerie screaming cries of juvenile Red Kites and Common Buzzards can be heard all along the valley to the backdrop of the whine of the working combines.

Intent on trying to rack the 2010 Amersham Recording Area list up to 100 species, I spent much of the day walking the Chess Valley, hoping for either a Lesser Whitethroat or flyover Yellow Wagtail. The highlight was the finding of 2 HOBBIES - incredibly the first of the year (species 97). In any normal year, Hobbies would be breeding but not this year (3 pairs are just outside the periphery)....


At Latimer Great Water, the lake held 16 Mute Swans (including 1 cygnet), 6 Tufted Ducks and 33 Coots, whilst 3 adult Black-headed Gulls flew west and the Latimer Conference Centre grounds yielded Common Buzzard, Song Thrush, Green Woodpecker and Robin.

A family group of 4 Common Magpies intriguingly held 3 individuals showing the bluish skin area behind the eye associated with Mauretanicus birds found in North Africa. All were juveniles and it appeared to be some effect of moult.

Walking down to Neptune Waterfall, a mixed tit flock harboured 5 Great, 3 Blue and 8 Long-taileds, whilst the section of river between the falls and Latimer Bridge yielded 2 Mute Swans, a female Mallard with 5 well grown young, a female Tufted Duck with 3 ducklings (and two other females and a female with three much older young), a single adult Little Grebe and 11 Coots (including 6 juveniles).

Latimer Village had Great Spotted Woodpecker and 6 European Barn Swallows and whilst counting the swirling flock of House Martins high above the village (45 in all), I came across 2 HOBBIES taking an active interest in them. In fact, they circled around for the best part of half an hour before finally drifting away over Flaunden Grove. Incredibly, these were the first Hobbies to be recorded in the Amersham Recording Area this year, most years several pairs nesting. Despite exhaustive searching, I did not locate any this summer between Amersham and Beaconsfield nor in the Cholesbury area. A single COMMON SWIFT was also noted.

Moving on and away from the grazing cattle by Latimer Bridge, the walk east to Church Covert turned up Greenfinch, Grey Heron, a male Common Pheasant and two pairs of Coot with young, whilst Church Covert held a Common Chiffchaff and I flushed an unidentified dark warbler up and away from sedges by the river. A number of BANDED DEMOISELLES were on the reeds by the side of the Chess.

With a backdrop of whining combine harvesters, the eerie cries of baby Red Kites and Common Buzzards echoed from the direction of Baldwin's Wood and once again I can report a tremendous breeding season for both species (the Chilterns population now fast approaching a staggering 900 birds) (see Mike Ilett's superb images above).

For the second year in succession, Mill Farm Meadow has hosted breeding Common Kestrels and this year just two juveniles have fledged (both waiting to be fed by the parents on the dead tree). Down by the river, a family party of 6 Greenfinches was drinking, whilst nearby where the horses had been grazing, a pair of Linnets and a family group of Pied Wagtails (two juveniles) were feeding. Five European Barn Swallows were circling overhead.

At Frogmore Meadows, both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were encountered, with three juvenile Green seen in total. At the neighbouring Water Vole Watchpoint, a juvenile Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and a family group of 4 Atlantic Canada Geese was noted.

In the paddocks adjoining Valley Farm, an adult LITTLE OWL was feeding three fledged juveniles on the parched ground, clumsily bouncing about and snatching at passing butterflies and damselflies. The same fields held Green Woodpecker and a female Pied Wagtail busily gathering food and at the ford next door to the Crestyl Water Cress Farm, Dunnock and Common Whitethroat were in the tall weedy field.

As I walked along Holloway Lane back towards Chenies Village, I was enthralled by a family party of 5 BULLFINCHES feeding on Crab Apples in the hedgerow. The sounds being uttered by the juveniles was oddly reminiscent of the squeaky calls made by the juvenile Coots. A Song Thrush and juvenile Chaffinch were also seen.

Monday, 2 August 2010

First reasonable fall of early autumn passage migrants - and first SEDGE WARBLER


An evening visit in the hope of a Hobby. Calm conditions and an abundance of insect life saw the first real arrival of passage migrants to the lake including the first SEDGE WARBLER of the year in the Recording Area.........

GREAT CRESTED GREBE (3 birds still present, one of which is a first-winter)
Grey Heron (3 fishing in the shallows around the island)
Mute Swan (all 5 birds present - the resident pair and the three young from last summer)
MANDARIN DUCK (juvenile swam from the west end to the island)
GADWALL (5 noted)
Tufted Duck (female with 4 growing duicklings)
Coot (90+)
Moorhen (9+)
Red Kite (2 juveniles hanging around the cricket field)
Common Kestrel (1)
Stock Dove (2)
Green Woodpecker (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Grey Wagtail (1 at the waterfall)
European Barn Swallow (5 flycatching low over the surface)
Common Blackbird (3)
Song Thrush (1)
Mistle Thrush (6)
SEDGE WARBLER (fresh juvenile showing well in the Sallows)
Common Chiffchaff (at least 25 present in the Sallows - mainly juveniles)
WILLOW WARBLER (5 bright juveniles present in the Sallows)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (adult and two juveniles flycatching from the Sallows at the west end of the lake)
Blue Tit (6)
Long-tailed Tit (12)
Carrion Crow (4)